It's time to stop and smell the politics

As the musky odor of Nevada politics begins to permeate the air, this is perhaps the time to reflect on how we have bastardized our own form of government.

The elected officials and potential candidates from both sides of the aisle are huddling with their political consultants to decide which issues will strike a chord with the electorate. If no important issues exist then they will create them.

The pollsters are hard at work gathering data, while hard-working party loyalists are on telephones glorifying their party's "chosen ones." A list is drawn up of the items that people want from their government, everything from bike paths to pay increases for the "protected classes" known as government employees. We want! We want! We want! If they get what they want, they bitch! If they don't get what they want, they bitch! Then the blame game begins!

Today, big government is blamed for everything from bad highways to a system of social services crumbling under its own weight. We blame the politicians for letting government become too bloated and inefficient, for imposing absurd mandates and prohibitions on business and upon the individual, for micro-managing our lives and confiscating our earnings.

The blame is misplaced.

We are to blame. No one else. We are all guilty. Liberals and conservatives alike. Not the politicians. Not the bureaucrats. To curse the inefficiencies of government is to curse the face in the mirror. The government animal, by its very nature, has a voracious appetite, but it would never have grown so large had we not overfed the corpulent beast. Our Constitution did not design government to do anything but implement the provisions and principles enumerated in the document. When we demand government to assume functions outside that sphere, we are requiring it to do something for which it was not designed. Because of those demands, it performs those functions poorly and inefficiently.

As a country, we now legislate philanthropy, instead of being charitable. Less than a third of the taxes that fund government social programs actually escape the bureaucracy. Even under the new "welfare reform' policies, the recipient is a number and everyone is treated alike. Conversely, individuals and private charities spend less than a third of receipts on administration. If someone is abusing the generosity of private charity, they can be dealt with on a stern and private individual level. Encouragement toward becoming self-supporting is more compelling when the donor and recipient are face to face.

Today we require government to prepare us for retirement instead of assuming that responsibility ourselves. Most who have contributed (forced) to Social Security (the classic model of American socialism) for 20 or more years would now have a substantial retirement account if they had been allowed to invest it into something as stable as a bond fund; even with tax contributions. This would be our money, not a government rebate in the form of a monthly check at retirement.

As a country and as a state, we now legislate morality, civility and common sense instead of practicing the tenets of these doctrines. We allow the federal and state government to tell us what we may watch on television, how we can medicate ourselves, how we must keep records and run our business, even how, and whom we can like and dislike. We have lost sight of the differences between that which government must do to ensure domestic tranquility, and that which should be left to the conscience of the individual. If I elect not to install a wheelchair ramp in my place of business, the marketplace should judge my punishment, not the state. If I suffer from angina, it should be my right to keep nitroglycerin tablets nearby, not the province of government to preempt my choice or tell me that I must first have the government's permission to use the medicine.

Government has the moral and constitutional obligation to promote the general welfare, not provide it or legislate a particular outcome. To promote means to nurture, not coerce. When we, the people, through the instrument of our government use the threat of force and incarceration to make into law that which should be discretionary to the individual, we usurp the rights and good will of the individual.

We create instead disrespect for those fundamental laws needed to preserve peace and tranquility. We diminish the authority of law in the "real" world beyond the brick and mortar of the Nevada State Legislature and the halls of Congress. Have you checked your mirror lately?


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